DF and Tom Hlasny, Château La Lagune
And now for the heavyweights. 2009 was always, from the very beginning, lauded as a fabulous vintage for the red wines. Legendary even, if you'd believe some of the breathless reports coming back from American critics. Lots of ripeness, soaring alcohol levels, all incredibly voluptuous - very Moulin Rouge, all sex and legs without being whoreish.
They delivered on that promise. The wines were, in a word, extraordinary. Ripe and approachable, exceedingly pure in fruit. Alcohols are high, but I did not detect any hint of an alcoholic burn in any of the wines. The most amazing thing about them though? The freshness. All of them were so fresh, so energetic, so lively. The triumph here, at this stage? In my opinion, the left bank. Pure fruit, finely structured, very elegant. Margaux was a bit off for me, the oak was incredibly intrusive. There were still some issues with over-extraction, especially on the right bank. Unfortunately, some also showed a dried, over-ripened character. Oak management is still an issue - you can't help but wonder if they got so excited with how ripe the fruit was that they figured, why not . . . let's just stick in as much new oak as we can.
Overall, the wines were so, so exciting, I was nearly turning delirious. My favourite wines? Gazin in the right bank, Pichon-Longueville-Baron in the left bank. Expensive as shit, but damn, fine as hell. By far one of the best showings of red wine in the 3 years that the UGC has been in Toronto. I just can't get over how exciting the 2009 reds are!!
Château Canon-La Gaffelière 2009: presented by the one and only Stephan Von Neipperg, dashing as always draped in an orange sweater; oaky rich fruit, great purity on the palate, oaky but quite structured, very long
Château Figeac 2009: oaky on the nose, crunchy fruit, very complex; palate disappoints, seems to completely drop off; at an awkward stage?
Château Troplong-Mondot 2009: So much oak here, dark fruit; refined and very elegant on the palate, finely structured, a good one
Château Clinet 2009: at $265 a bottle, certainly not being bashful; warm fruit, extremely ripe, slightly macerated; a bit disappointing, as I want richness and freshness in a warm Pomerol vintage
Château Gazin 2009: my favourite right bank wine, a real winner; this wine always quite rich, and ages very well - you almost feel like it'll never lose its fruit, in any vintage; dark and really big, rich fruit; dense oak on both the nose and palate, tannins are a bit coarse; very structured, needs time - all the elements are present, so much potential here
Château Petit-Village 2009: ripe fresh fruit, some oak, well integrated; big, grippy tannins
Château Poujeaux 2009: beautifully ripe, fresh fruit, so well put together; such an incredible fragrance, elegant palate, with the oak coming up slightly on the finish; very fine indeed
Château Chasse-Spleen 2009: my first time meeting Pierre Foubet, Managing Director of Chasse-Spleen, sans moustache (!); really fresh, pure fruit, so fine, so elegant, remaining structured and pure on the palate; delicious already, I'm SO glad I bought this wine
Château La Lagune 2009: the wine that introduced me to fine Bordeaux - 7 vintages in my cellar and counting; fresh fruit, really pure, some well integrated oak; grippy tannins, really structured, I'm really looking forward to seeing this age
Château Angludet 2009: complex, fine nose, really linear fruit, structured; really, really great
Château Brane-Cantenac 2009: so oaky, completely hiding the fruit; not offering much on the palate; can you say I'm awkward today?
Château Cantenac Brown 2009: that oaky nose again; ripe fruit, remaining fresh on the palate as well; finely structured
Château Du Tertre 2009: degree of oakiness, fine structure, but more luscious in texture
Château Giscours 2009: oaky all over, structured, pure fruit
Château Kirwan 2009: oaky ripe fruit, that middle of the line palate
Château Prieuré-Lichine 2009: so fresh, vibrant in fruit, really elegant; good structure, beautifully put together; 50% new oak
Château Rauzan-Ségla 2009: fine fruit, some oak, really linear palate; finely structured, really delicious; the famous (and hideous looking) Karl Lagerfeld-designed labels
Château Rauzan-Gassies 2009: crunchy, oaky fruit, good integration, fine palate; quite good in fact
Margaux . . . y u no stay consistent??!!
Château Beychevelle 2009: fresh, vibrant fruit, good density, rich but balanced; delicious already
Château Branaire Ducru 2009: I need to take a closer look at these wines; fine oak used, linear fruit, elegantly structured; so fresh, very good potential
Château Gruaud-Larose 2009: oaky, fine fruit; linear, fresh, well structured; it's the freshness and balance that was giving my boy Stefan the shakes
Château Langoa-Barton 2009: good depth, dark, and linear; finely structured, tight and dense; the potential here is obvious
Château Lagrange 2009: fresh, well integrated oak, good structured, slightly candied in fruit
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2009: slightly bretty here, the only one (!); rustic palate, good structure, fine
Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron 2009: clearly the finest red wine here; really elegant, pure fruit, fresh, and incredible pedigree here; absolute silk on the palate, weightless; so fine, so grand, I'm losing my mind here
Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse De Lalande 2009: some oak, fine fruit, elegant structured and with great breed; excellent potential here, one of the grand wines of Pauillac ($295 a bottle)
Final thoughts on the wines, and the vintage next.